Young bullpen yields another O's defeat, 3-1

Indians score 2 off Bauer in eighth to deal Orioles their fourth loss in row

Colon contains O's for 5th win

Hargrove likes `character' after 2 Julio heartbreakers

May 16, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND - With so many young pitchers filling critical roles in the bullpen, Orioles manager Mike Hargrove knew there'd be nights like this.

For six weeks the bullpen was brilliant. Over the past four games, the same young pitchers have broken the team's heart.

The Cleveland Indians scored two runs against Orioles rookie reliever Rick Bauer last night, breaking an eighth-inning tie to claim a 3-1 victory at Jacobs Field.

The loss stretched the Orioles' losing streak to four games, and the bullpen is responsible for three of those defeats after losing only twice during this season's first 35 games

On Tuesday, Cleveland scored four runs with two outs in the ninth inning to pull off a 6-5 victory that sent Hargrove searching through his memory banks to find comparable disappointment.

"I honestly don't know of a tougher loss - maybe the seventh game of the World Series in '97," said Hargrove, whose Cleveland squad lost that one in 10 innings to the Florida Marlins. "I believe in these guys. At some point in time the light's going to go on, and we're going to be real good.

"I sure hope I'm around when it happens."

Hargrove had arrived at the ballpark yesterday wondering how his team would respond after such a crushing loss.

Hard-throwing Cleveland starter Bartolo Colon (5-3) held the Orioles to one run on seven hits over eight innings, but the Orioles tied the score with Chris Singleton's home run in the sixth inning.

Rodrigo Lopez pitched well again, but will have to wait to renew his bid to become the Orioles' first rookie to begin a season 6-0. He took a no-decision, despite holding the Indians to one unearned run on five hits in 5 2/3 innings and lowering his ERA to 2.01.

"I feel very good about this team," Hargrove said. "I hate like crazy that we lost. You want to win games like that, and we will win games like that. We came back today against a really tough pitcher and fought and clawed and had a chance to win.

"That shows me a lot about the character of these guys, and you can work with stuff like that. You can build on that."

Cleveland's winning rally started with a sharp single to right field by Matt Lawton, who won Tuesday's game with a two-run homer. Bauer (1-1) had entered the game to start the seventh inning, and he wavered for one of the few times this season.

Jim Thome, who is best known for hitting balls a country mile, hit one about 40 feet and still reached with a base hit, moving Lawton to second. After a passed ball, Bauer walked Ellis Burks to load the bases, and then Russell Branyan hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field, scoring Lawton with the go-ahead run.

All three runners advanced on Branyan's fly ball, and when Bauer threw a wild pitch to Bruce Aven, Thome scored to give Cleveland a two-run lead.

Later, Bauer was clearly disgusted with himself as he recounted the inning with short fragmented sentences.

"There's nothing you can do about an infield hit, [Thome] hit it in the perfect spot," Bauer said. "I gave up a good solid hit to Lawton again - can't seem to figure him out. Couldn't get the pitch down to Branyan. [The wild pitch] killed me. I threw a slider 10 feet outside, which killed me.

"I was garbage, just terrible."

On Saturday in Tampa and again here Tuesday, it was 23-year-old Jorge Julio who felt this misery. This time, it was the 25-year-old Bauer.

"I think when it's all said and done, Rick Bauer's going to be a very good pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles," Hargrove said. "We have a lot of confidence in him ... and the next time we get in that situation, we'll have him in there."

Lawton and Thome are both left-handed hitters, but Hargrove said he didn't want to go to the left-handed Buddy Groom unless the Orioles took the lead.

Bauer wasn't surprised he was left in to start the eighth.

"I like to pitch in that situation," Bauer said, "and I knew I was going to go back out there. We're not going to use Buddy unless we have a lead and it's a big situation. I have to get left-handers out as well as right-handers. I just didn't do it tonight."

Cleveland closer Bob Wickman pitched the ninth inning for his eighth save.

Lopez had won each of his first four starts, but he left Friday's game at Tampa with a blister on his right middle finger. The Orioles had reliever Travis Driskill warming up during the fourth inning this time, but Lopez hung on to throw a season-high 107 pitches, 56 for strikes.

The only run he allowed was unearned, as his errant pickoff throw to third base allowed Omar Vizquel to score in the first inning.

Orioles tonight

Opponent:Cleveland Indians

Site:Jacobs Field, Cleveland

Time:7:05

TV/Radio:Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Calvin Maduro (2-3, 4.35) vs. Indians' C.C. Sabathia (3-4, 6.31)

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